Boggy Creek Monster: The Truth Behind the Legend
Directed by Seth Breedlove
I have been aware of Small Town Monsters and their documentaries on, well, small town monsters, for a while now. But I never got around to watching them. A number of the titles have been on my Amazon Prime Watch List for months, but they always seemed to get bumped for something else. But that was my loss. After watching five of these titles this week alone, I must say, I am hooked. And also a bit angry at myself for not catching these sooner. So I’m going to start my reviews of these with Boggy Creek Monster, because The Legend of Boggy Creek was, for me, one of those seminal TV experiences, like In Search Of…, that initially got me into the paranormal.
The Boggy Creek creature is, of course, the Bigfoot-like swamp monster that prowls the swamps and river bottoms in and around Fouke, Arkansas. The sightings were made famous by the 1972 cult classic and late night horror movie favorite The Legend of Boggy Creek, produced and directed by Charles B. Pierce. More recently, cryptozoologist and author Lyle Blackburn has taken on the mantle of Boggy Creek expert, and he joins Boggy Creek Monster as narrator, interviewer, and producer. And I cannot think of anyone better suited for the job. Blackburn’s calm, soothing Southern drawl accompanies us on this modern examination of the Fouke monster legend, and much like Leonard Nimoy of In Search Of… or Mike Rowe narrating Ghost Hunters, his voice is instantly familiar and comforting. He is a born narrator, and his expertise and interest in the subject really comes across here. He also narrates Mothman of Point PLeasant, and I found myself missing his narration in the other Small Town Monsters docs.
Boggy Creek Monster examines many aspects of the Boggy Creek legend, from the early history of the sightings, to the impact The Legend of Boggy Creek had on the town and townspeople, and right on up to modern-day encounters with the monster. Blackburn appears on location to interview witnesses and residents, visits a home that was featured in the move, and even examines some evidence in the form of footprints. Archival footage, old photos, newspaper clippings, and music from the original movie are perfectly integrated as well, and there are some nicely stylized recreations throughout to help the viewer better visualize the encounters. And this is where I need to move on from a general summary, and get to some of the nuances that really impressed me about this flick.
For me, there are two huge things that stand out in this doc (as well as the other Small Town Monster docs): the music, and the cinematography. As a musician, I can really appreciate the difference between a musical score tacked on as an afterthought, using public domain pieces, versus truly original and thematically appropriate music. Boggy Creek Monster uses a nice mix of music from The Legend of Boggy Creek, as well as new songs by Brandon Dalu, mainly on banjo, which are very fitting and a nice callback to the original film. The ambient background music during interviews is also appropriate to the atmosphere the film builds, subtle but ominous. Zac Palmisano does an amazing job with the cinematography, mixing low to the ground shots, beautiful aerial views, and late-night drives down dark deserted roads. It really transports the viewer to Boggy Creek and makes you feel you are right there where the sightings took place. There are some nice live-action recreations, but also stylized black & white art drawing to help the audience visualize some of the sightings as the witnesses recount them.
This production, like any documentary, isn’t without its flaws. There are a few scenes where the audio isn’t mixed quite right, and it’s hard to hear the dialogue of the witnesses over the background music. Some of the eyewitnesses have a strong southern accent, especially the old timers, and subtitles would have been appreciated in these parts, as again, it can be hard to make out exactly what they are saying. But these instances are few and far between, and don’t mar an otherwise excellent documentary.
I’m not usually impressed by (or very kind to) most paranormal shows or documentaries these days, and I think that’s why I avoided these docs for so long. I’d heard good things, but people also love Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. so I was naturally leery. I recently reviewed the new In Search Of…, and as much as I liked it, I honestly feel like the Small Town Monsters series is a more natural successor to that old paranormal staple. The music is distinctive, the production values are awesome, and these are exactly the kinds of programs that will get the next generation interested in the paranormal. A cable netowrk or streaming service would be smart to jump all over this and finance these productions. Or maybe it’s best left to independent researchers, who don’t want to sensationalize the topics for ratings, and just let the stories be told by those who lived them.
Boggy Creek Monster is a great companion to The Legend of Boggy Creek, and a fascinating take on the legend in its own right. I can’t recommend Small Town Monsters enough, and Boggy Creek Monster is one of the stronger offerings. Definitely check it out.